Friday, July 22, 2011

how the news of borders closing made my week.

 {despite countless internet searches, I couldn't find an original source for this photo. help?}

Have you heard?

Borders is shutting its doors, nationwide this time. A buyer for the brand backed out at the last minute, and now sources report that all of the chain’s stores will be closed by the end of September.

It feels a little bit like when The Shop Around the Corner closed, except this time, the roles are reversed, and the loser is big, bad Fox Books.

My fingers are crossed that this means good news for wannabe-Kathleen Kellys everywhere (though mainly, the one who resides in Tallahassee, Florida).

Sure, I’m sad. Borders was never my bookstore of choice — I’ve long been a Barnes and Noble girl — but our local store is close to my work, and I enjoy dropping in to browse the shelves. It doesn’t hurt that Borders distributes coupons like they’re going out of style, meaning I almost never purchased a book at full-price. (Part of their problem? Perhaps.)

I’m disappointed that many see the bookseller’s closings as death to paper, as a triumph for technology and the e-book. I’m afraid that my generation and the generations to come won’t know what joy reading can bring, that Google will, as is being reported, take over our brains, and the conversations at dinner parties will screech to a halt as iPhones get whipped out for a quick text or brief internet search.

There is a part of me, though, that has been giddy all week.

I first saw NPR’s report on Monday night, and my first thought was: It’s happening. The wheels are in motion for me to launch my dream.

Borders’ closing leaves two major bookstores in my town (not including the quirky used bookstores that allow cats to roam between the shelves). One store, I’m afraid, is not long for this world, due to its poor location in a dying shopping mall. The other… Well, the other, I refuse to even enter on moral grounds. (Okay, okay. It’s Books-a-Million. There’s nothing wrong with it per say, just your standard bookstore warehouse, with poor customer service and overbearing fluorescent lighting. I refuse to make a purchase there. A coworker of mine confided that she began a similar boycott over 10 years ago. So there you go.)

Where, you ask then, can Tallahasseeans go to buy a book? To mingle among the pages? To sit and quietly confer about which book to purchase and which book to leave behind?

It’s a good question, a question I keep asking myself as I drive by available storefronts and daydream about wood floors, comfy couches, and noisy espresso machines. As I say little bits of my dream out loud, I am, of course, discovering naysayers. Those people who believe opening a brick-and-mortar bookshop in this kind of economy, with Amazon.com as competition, is ludicrous.

But there are others who look excited, who realize the grand possibility that can come with having a local bookshop with an owner who genuinely cares about what she sells and how she sells it.

Yes, Borders is closing. But my dreams? They’re getting a little bit bigger every day.

(Now, just out of curiosity, where do you buy your books? Online? At a chain store? Do you have a local shop you frequent? What do you look for in a bookseller? Consider this market research.)

22 comments:

Laken said...

Talking about your dream always makes me so giddy. I just think this suits you perfectly.

And I completely agree that this news is a good thing for you!

I spend a lot of time at the local Barnes and Noble, which is really the only bookstore in town. (Like you, we have a dying chain store in a sketchy, empty mall - so that doesn't count) I'll be honest, though -- I never really buy anything at Barnes and Noble. I go there for coffee and date nights with Tyler. We sit on the couches and get stacks of books. The only reason I never buy anything is because they never really have what I'm looking for (except for cookbooks) -- either they can't find it or they don't have it in stock. Which is ironic.

All that said, I usually buy online out of necessity. But, personally, if I had the option to buy from a local bookstore, I would.

Brooke Bailey said...

I immediately thought of you when I saw that Borders is closing on the news. There will always be naysayers. I say go for it!

Melanie said...

I love little independent bookshops, but I have to admit, I buy most of my books used and online. I actually prefer used books, and if a brick and mortar bookshop were to sell them at competitive prices, I would definitely patronize the store. (I know, that doesn't do anything to keep publishers in business.) Our county library system has a big used bookshop in the basement of one of the library branches. I love to go there and see what I can find.

PS: The idea of winding my way through the shelves of a bookshop along with the cats sounds like a perfect Saturday morning activity!

Alyss said...

I thought to same thing when I heard the news. I am a Barnes and Noble girl, too, which I suppose is the biggest of the Fox Books, eh? But I will say that if there were a ma and pa bookstore around my parts, I'd be there,

Rachel Heartsfield said...

Go for it!! I love the ridiculously cheap prices of Amazon, but I would love shopping at a cute boutique book store even more.

I think with the economy and popularity of e-readers you would have to do something more along the lines of a bookstore/coffee shop or bakery.

Even Perry has a small bookstore that has been in business for years, so it can be done (and you would be the perfect one to do it!)

Jenny said...

I agree with Rachel, to be successful you should probably to a book store/coffee shop combo. I usually buy online or at Barnes and Noble, but I would definitely frequent a cute local book store if I had one to frequent. Such a great dream you have!

Jules said...

I bought from Borders, actually. They always had coupons, which brought their price down to what Amazon charged with the instant gratification of walking home with a book in hand. With this Borders closing, I'll have to get on the freeway and drive a few miles to the nearest B&N. Like you, the only bookshop I know of is an independently owned used book shop downtown.

Best of luck on achieving your dream!

Vicki said...

I am totally rooting for you, Annie! I'd love to see you make your dream a reality. We don't have any cute little bookstores left up here, but I have been known do Google searches for independent bookstores to check out when I travel (yes, I am a huge book geek!). Good coffee & bakery goods will definitely help draw people in. I'm sure your personality would keep them coming back.

chet said...

if blogger comments are any source of validity, I think it is fair to say that you've got it.

the real question is, will you carry Twilight?

Denise said...

Borders is closing??! I was just there last weekend! How sad, but at least I still have Books A Million!! :)

thatgirldenise.blogspot.com

Cherry Tree Lane said...

I was thrilled when I heard, secretly.

It made me realize that it will someday bring the revival of independent bookstores.

Everything comes back.

Christy said...

We love independant book shops. Especially if they're kid friendly. Most especially if they have a story time once a week or so. This mom will do anything to get her kids out of the house! :)

aPearantly sew said...

I love browsing "small town", personally owned bookstores. There is a cute little mountain town a couple of hours from us that we love, and they have the best book store. We go in there every time we visit and browse the shelves forever, and always leave with a couple of new (or used) books for each of us & the kids. We also do a lot of shopping (and relaxing) at Barnes & Noble. I love your dream of owning your own little book store! I think it sounds absolutely fabulous. Can I please come work for you when you open it? ;)

jenna said...

This afternoon I spent a good hour and a half roaming around Barnes & Noble by myself, and it was like a healing balm was applied to my weary soul!! I bought several books today, actually. Given the choice between B&N or a bookstore opened by you, I'd choose your store every time!! Do it!!!!

Relevant Notes Blog said...

I love the idea of you opening a bookstore :)

I used to be a Barnes and Nobles girl. Now I have a Kindle, which I love, but I do miss buying books sometimes. I still like to go to B&N to browse, and then I'll write down which books I might want in the future. Sometimes it's not quite the same...

Kristin @ The Chronicles of Kristin said...

I just happened to stumble upon your blog here and love this post! I'm a bit sad that Borders is closing, just because there was one right by my first place of employment and it was nice to go in there and peruse. Plus, like you mentioned, the coupons were great. ;) Your idea for a bookstore, though, I love. Truly. I'm imagining myself sitting in there, and it's a beautiful picture. I'm already comfortable there, with you and the books I imagine lining the shelves. Don't let any naysayers drag you down... I truly believe that there will always be people who love real paper-and-binding books. You can't take that magic out of reading, no matter what crazy new tech-toy comes out.

I do often purchase from Amazon due to price... a lot of times I'll even look at their used books and try to get an even better deal. But I'm one of those who is willing to pay a bit extra for environment and customer service/experience. So if that tells you anything, there you go. :)

Andrea {FancyThat!} said...

Your dream sounds wonderful!

Unfortunately, I am a budget-buyer all the way because, well, I'm on a budget! I buy online or through B&N when I have gift cards or am looking for cheap paperbacks. If you can offer budget-friendly copies, I think you'll be a hit!

Hannah said...

The one and only bookstore in my Texas college town is Barnes & Noble. That's my spot these days. My favorite bookstore EVER though, I used to visit with my aunt when she lived in El Paso. It was down in the valley and we'd always hit Starbucks both ways. That store was a mess, but the owner had impeccable taste. I never picked up a book I didn't instantly love.

You opening a bookstore + The Wizarding World of Harry Potter = I wouldn't be able to stay away from Florida. Perfection.

Melissa said...

This is so perfectly you...we would certainly enjoy shopping there. Carl loves books - he does not swap out, sell his books...we have shelves and boxes full. We actually have a great shop in Hattiesburg when we go see my dad. In an old small house with bookshelves in every available space in every room, sorted according to type, etc. The lady can tell you by heart if she does have a certain author/book and is just delightful. And, of course, coffee/tea and cookies/pastries would be an added bonus - overstuffed chairs/couches, big throw pillows...awesome. That's all that's missing from our MS shop - no where to sit down...go for it girlfriend!

Julie said...

Just found your blog through Monster Cake today and I am so happy that I did.

I actually live in Ann Arbor where Border's is headquartered. It is sad for all of us since it is another slam to our not so bright Michigan economy but I completely understand and agree with you.

Ann Arbor has several other fabulous little quirky and original bookstores that took a hit when Border's went big. It is nice to see that maybe we are going back to the joy of book buying in quaint and quiet locales.

I am a teacher so I usually purchase my books for work through Amazon. They are the best price for my pocketbook. Since I am a sucker for young adult books and I want to get books into my student's hands I am willing to go through a mega giant like Amazon. Morally I like to shop at the quiet and quaint stores for my own reading pleasure and LOVE my local libraries used book sales. There is nothing like finding an original copy of a book that I LOVE. I also like the ability to purchase a book that may otherwise end up getting recycled because of lack of love.

Sincerely,

Julie

P.S. Loved your blog so much I started following you on Google Reader:) Can't wait to read what else you have to share!

Sugar Mama said...

Our local Borders has a great children's section and coffee area. My children and I went there for "dates". It was our place together to hang out, talk, grab something to drink, and enjoy books.

It's a 30 minute drive to the nearest bookstore now that Borders is leaving. So, yes, I'm totally bummed it didn't make it. I can only hold on to hope that a B&N will fill the huge empty void.

Kelly Sauer said...

Oh what a fun dream! You should totally DO IT!!!